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Meet Our Pack

Dr. Margaret E. Gruen

DVM, MVPH, PhD, DACVB, Fear Free Certified

Principal Investigator, Associate Professor of Behavioral Medicine

2022-23 University Faculty Scholar

2021-22 Goodnight Early Career Innovator

Dr. Margaret E. Gruen holding a Siamese cat the veterinary office.

Dr. Gruen completed her veterinary degree at the University of Illinois. She came to North Carolina State University for an internship followed by a residency in veterinary behavior. She completed a Masters in Veterinary Public Health and became a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. After a few years on the faculty at NC State, she decided to pursue a PhD with a focus on understanding the behaviors associated with pain in cats with naturally-occurring arthritis. She then spent two years at Duke University, where she co-directed the Canine Cognition Center, and now has returned to North Carolina State University as an Associate Professor of Behavioral Medicine.

  • Spontaneous Animal Disease Models
  • Human-Animal Interaction; Pain Management; Cognition and Ageing


  • Comparative Pain Research and Education Center (CPREC)
  • International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP)
  • International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)


  • Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (DACVB)
  • Fear Free Certification

Our Pack

Here you can learn more about the people involved with the Comparative Behavioral Research laboratory! We are a team of animal lovers, and many of our pets are involved with the lab. To learn about how our personal pets contribute to our research, check out the Meet Our Pets page!

Eleanor McNamee, BS, BA

Laboratory Manager & Research Assistant

Eleanor received both her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from NC State University. During her time at NC State, she worked in a human factors lab and developed a passion for cognition. She is excited to be working with the CBR Lab where she can integrate her psychology background with her dog handling experience. In her spare time, she enjoys running, photography, and spending time with her family.

Rachel Caddiell, PhD

Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Rachel Caddiell smiling at the camera.

Dr. Rachel Caddiell completed her PhD in Comparative Biomedical Sciences here at NC State under the supervision of Dr. Margaret Gruen. Her dissertation research used an interdisciplinary approach to investigate whether there is a biological or behavioral basis for dog breed pain sensitivity beliefs, as well as how veterinary education and experiences contribute to these beliefs. Prior to coming to NC State, Rachel earned her Master of Science in Animal Science at Texas A&M University and her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at The Ohio State University. Rachel has worked on many animal welfare and behavior research projects involving livestock species including pigs, cattle and sheep! During her postdoc, Rachel is interested in furthering our understanding of the human-animal relationship with companion animals through direct and indirect indicators of animal welfare and human well-being. In her spare time, Rachel is all about family! She loves spending time with her husband and son, and of course, their adorable pup, Chai! 

A fun fact about Rachel is that she got her start in animal behavior with dogs! Growing up, she was very involved in her local community and her 4-H club. She showed dogs, goats, and small animals. Her real passion was working with dogs and sharing their love with others! She has been involved with therapy dog work for over a decade with her past dogs, Mocha and Java, and hopes to continue therapy work someday when Chai is a bit older and more mature.

Zoe Loh, PhD

Post Doctoral Research Associate

Dr. Zoe Loh, holds a Ph.D. in Pathology from Duke University, where she conducted groundbreaking studies under the mentorship of Dr. Ming Chen. Her doctoral research unveiled a novel nuclear function for PTEN in regulating dTMP biosynthesis, with potential implications for targeting prostate cancer cells with excluded PTEN from the nucleus using antifolate drugs. Currently, Dr. Loh serves as a postdoctoral researcher at the NCSU Vet School, collaborating with Dr. Margaret Gruen and Dr. Duncan Lascelles. Her current focus lies in investigating alterations in cognitive domains among dogs suffering from chronic osteoarthritic pain. Beyond her research endeavors, Dr. Loh is a compassionate caregiver, devoting her time at home to fostering litters of puppies and kittens from various local shelters and rescues. 

Beth Case, MSc

Research Assistant
Beth Case smiling at camera.

Beth received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Davis and Elkins College and her Master of Science in Zoology from NC State University. She has extensive experience managing clinical studies in cancer treatment, pain management and behavior. In her free time, she enjoys painting, traveling and hiking with her dog.

Kara Moore, MSc

Research Assistant
Kara Moore smiling at the camera.

Kara received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Bates College and her Master of Science in Marine Sciences from UC-Santa Cruz. She is excited to begin working on our puppy cognition study in partnership with Duke University’s Canine Cognition Center, which aligns with her past research experience in animal behavior. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and boating.


  • Ilex Starenchak, LAT, M. Bio, Laboratory Manager & Research Assistant, 2022-2023
  • Hope Woods, BA, Laboratory Manager & Research Assistant, 2019-2022
  • Dr. Michael Khan, DVM, Post-Doctoral Research Associate, 2020-2022
  • Dr. Rachael Cunningham, DVM, Post Doctoral Research Associate, 2020-2021
Samantha Dunn, 2023Jackie Blake, 2019
Gabriella Zayas Santiago, 2021Kylie Grady, 2019
Katie Kurtz, 2020Irina Perdew, 2019
Megan Carson, 2019

Joining Our Pack

If you are an NC State Undergraduate student and are interested in getting involved with our research, please email with your information and availability!